Musings on Top Podcasts from Robby Fowler: Issue 3 entitled Bossy Metrics from the Reply All podcast

Spark: A Series of Musings on Top Podcasts, Issue 3

Welcome back to another issue of Spark—my musings about marketing, business, life, and the gospel from top podcasts. Here’s how this works.

  • Each issue is a “spark” I get while listening to different podcasts.
  • Each spark is short and sweet, not over-edited or intimidating.
  • Each spark will relate to marketing, business, life, or the gospel.

Here are the wins for you.

In each Spark, you can…

  • Find inspiration.
  • Hop off the hamster wheel to consider something worth noodling over for a second.
  • Discover a great podcast episode for your own enrichment.

My hope is what “sparked” for me will ignite something for you—personally or professionally.

Spark, Issue No. 3: Bossy Metrics

This issue of Spark comes while enjoying episode 128 of Reply All —the second in a 2-part series called The Crime Machine.

Here’s a quick intro to the Reply All podcast. 

  • Reply All is a podcast about the internet that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it.

I’m a bit of a techie, so I enjoy the quirky storytelling and approach of this podcast.

“Who’s The Boss?” Is Not Just an ’80s Sitcom

Nobody likes a bad boss. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Who’s The Boss? was a TV sitcom in the mid-80s. This 2-part series from Reply All tells the story from the same time period. Crime in New York City during that time was out of control. The New York City Police Department was scrambling to keep up. 

Enter CompStat. CompStat is described this way in the podcast. “It’s a computer program that the NYPD uses to measure every single cop and tell them in excruciating detail how to do their job.”

The thinking and approach behind CompStat helped the NYPD drastically reduce crime. And the godfather of CompStat, Jack Maple, used it as a police baton to bully indifferent sergeants into submission in the early ’90s. 

Basically, Jack Maple ran the NYPD like a mob boss. He used CompStat to hold departments accountable for any crime in their precinct. If CompStat showed crime in your area went up, you were going down. Everyone was terrified of Jack. Some grizzly cops would throw-up before meeting with him.

My Spark? Bossy Metrics Make Bad Bosses

I was listening to this fascinating story when about 9 minutes in, this statement jumped out at me…

It was like the crime rate itself became the boss.

You see what happened there? It’s not surprising.

NYPD police officers and their chain of command were terrified of any hint of a rising crime rate. Rather than face Jack, they would fudge reports. Even worse, they would downgrade or ignore crimes to avoid entering a crime into CompStat.

The crime rate and crime metrics became the boss. 

The Real Crime Is Cowering to Metrics

That quote gave me pause. Here lies the challenge of running my own marketing business.

It’s all too easy to let the metrics become the boss instead of the metrics serving the boss.

Quote from top podcasts—Make the metrics serve the boss, not be the boss.

Here’s what I mean.

This Spark series of blog articles you’re reading right now is a perfect example. 

The Metrics Say “This Porridge Is Too Hot”

For starters, this article is too short. Most of these articles are shorter than the recommended length for maximum SEO. If you want Google to show you some love, blog posts need to be 2,000 words or more. While I aim for that on other blog articles, that’s not my approach for each Spark.

The Metrics Say “This Porridge Is Too Cold”

If you want to grow your business, you need to grow your email list. One great way is to offer a valuable content upgrade in your blog article. But my Spark series don’t offer readers like you the carrot of a content upgrade in exchange for your email. In other words, my mailing list metrics would wag their finger and say Spark is a failure. I’m not growing my email list with this article.

The Metrics Say “This Porridge Just Isn’t Right”

Your aim in marketing is to grow your business. The same goes for content marketing. But these Spark articles aren’t aimed directly at that bullseye. While Spark issues likely won’t cost me business or loss of revenue, they won’t line my pockets with cash either. Momma Metrics won’t be happy with that report card.

But Here’s My Point: I Don’t Always Like Porridge And I Don’t Have to Play By Metric’s Rules

The metrics don’t look favorably on Spark. So why do I do it?

Why did I create this series? Easy…

Because I want to.

Because it’s fun. Running your own business isn’t always fun. But this is.

I also do it because my audience asked me to. And they—and hopefully you if you’re reading this—they kinda like it. So I created Spark because I like serving my audience.

Spark Your Own Growth (The Kind of Growth Metrics Can’t Track!)

I love data. It’s great for business and marketing. But data metrics aren’t everything.

I’ve looked. Google Analytics cannot measure these things for me:

  • Fun
  • Inspiration
  • Creativity

My advice. If you’re sitting on your own Spark, go for it. Let Google frown. I did. And I’m going to keep writing these, SERP and SEO be damned.

Notable Quotables from this Podcast Episode

Here are other quotes from this podcast episode that stuck out to me.

Bossy Metrics Reek Havoc in Larger Organizations

Pressure kept rising for the NYPD. CompStat metrics and the crime rates in NYC are a big deal. A big deal for Mayors and the Police Chiefs, who both need to show lower crime rates than their predecessors. So the rank and file would downgrade reports to hide real crime, resulting in lower rates. That’s where this quote comes into the story…

At this point, do you even believe in the ‘crime rate’?

My Management Spark: When metrics go from a good thing to a “god” thing, pressure within the organization to hide and deceive go up. Larger businesses and organization are especially vulnerable.

When metrics go from a good thing to a “god” thing, pressure to hide and deceive go up.

Here’s one more related quote. It’s the other side of the same coin. On one side of the coin was the demand that ‘the crime rate has to go down.’ On the other side, cops were told by their superiors…

Your activity has to go up.

My Marketing Spark: If you’re not careful, people on your team can perform to serve metrics and meet quotas, not customers. When this happens, both team members and customers become a means to an end or cogs in the wheel of metrics.

Quote from best podcasts—If you’re not careful, people on your team can perform to serve metrics and meet quotas, not customers.

My Closing Challenge To You: Boss Your Metrics Around…Not The Other Way Around

Ask yourself this question. Is there some metric you’ve made boss over your business instead of you being the boss? 

Email me back and let me know your answer to that question. I could use all the help I can get avoiding bossy metric traps like you.

Transparency Note: I have no affiliation with this podcast. The views and opinions in this article are my own. Likewise, the views and opinions in the podcast are those of the creator.

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